The Charity Commission has set out its priorities for the year 2021-2022 in its annual business plan. These priorities are linked to the strategic objectives contained in the Commission’s five year plan but have naturally also been shaped by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the charity sector.
- Priority one is ‘We will help charity to deliver impact, as the country recovers from the pandemic’. A focus under this priority is building stronger relationships with trustees, through campaigns and ‘one to one’ engagement through a new trustee portal which will be in the initial phase of development this year. The Commission will also automate more services in an aim to increase capacity amongst its team.
- Priority two is ‘We will continue to deliver a step change in our robust approach to regulation’. The focus of this priority is a continued robust approach to ‘uncovering wrongdoing’ in the charity sector, making it easier for people to raise concerns and developing the case work skills of staff. This includes strengthening the legal team’s ability to respond to legal challenges. The Commission will also start preparing to expand the register, to manage the addition of 35,000 excepted church charities over the next 10 years.
- Priority three is ‘We will improve how we use data’, something alluded to previously by the Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran. This will involve a review of the framework for data collection, such as the Annual Return, and consideration of how this can contribute to more accountable charities.
- Finally, priority four is ‘We will create the right environment to enable our people to be more effective and to help make the Commission a great place to work’. This will involve enhancing the well-being and engagement of staff at the Commission.
This list of priorities is not surprising, combining response to the pandemic with a drive for greater efficiency in some areas and a continued focus on robust regulation. The introduction of the trustee portal and possible changes to the reporting framework will be developments to look out for in the coming year.